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International Inspiration Programme

Volume 488: debated on Monday 2 March 2009

1. What role the International Inspiration programme will play in delivering the London 2012 Olympics programme objective to promote sport excellence and participation in other countries. (259256)

International Inspiration is a promise that we made in Singapore when we won the right to host the 2012 games. The purpose of the programme is to ensure that a generation of young people are inspired through sport in developing countries around the world. The programme is already operating in five countries. Soon that number will be eight and it will increase. I take this opportunity to thank our partners in the programme—the British Council, UNICEF, the premier league, UK Sport and the Department for International Development—for their contributions.

I was recently in Zambia, where I visited a boys school in Lusaka which is part of the International Inspiration programme. We were impressed on that visit to see just how engaged the young people were in sport. One of the things that particularly impressed me was the fact that children with disabilities in the school were as involved as the more able bodied children. Is that part of the International Inspiration programme, and what can we do to support it?

I thank my hon. Friend for her question and for her visit to the programme in Lusaka. I can assure her that in International Inspiration right across the world, disabled children are equal participants with children who do not have disabilities. Given that the focus of the Zambia programme is the reduction of HIV/AIDS, I hope my hon. Friend may look at the opportunities for twinning between organisations and schools in her constituency and the International Inspiration programme.

Is the Minister aware that those of us who remember the 1948 games—the last London Olympics—which were run on a shoestring, remember them because they were an international inspiration programme? Sport was first, second and last, and money was very much further down the list. There is a fear that the London Olympics are so costly and the focus is so much on money that sport will take a back seat.

I can assure the hon. Gentleman that our objective is to ensure that these are the greatest Olympic games ever, as a sporting event, a cultural event and a paralympic event. Of course, it is also important to make sure that the regeneration objectives in east London are met. Of every pound being spent on developing the Olympic park, 75p is being spent on regeneration. The games will be good value for money, a great national party and an opportunity to celebrate the success of our athletes and para-athletes.